Social Science and Religion Network-People

Affiliated Faculty


Tim Longman serves as Director of the African Studies Center and is Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science. Prior to arriving at BU, he taught for twelve years at Vassar College.


Kimberly Arkin | Anthropology |
Assistant Professor of Anthropology.  Her work concerns the articulation of citizenship and religion among North African Jewish youth in Paris.

Robert W. Hefner is Professor of Anthropology, Associate Director of CURA, where he directs the program on Islam and civil society. Hefner has carried out research on religion and politics in Southeast Asia for the past twenty-eight years, and has conducted comparative research on Muslim culture and politics since the late-1980s.

Shahla Haeri, Director of the Women’s Studies Program and Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Boston University. She has conducted research in Iran, Pakistan, and India, and has written extensively on religion, law, and gender dynamics in the Muslim world.

Nancy Smith-Hefner, Associate Professor of Anthropology. She has done research on Buddhism and cultural adaptation among Khmer in the United States, and since the late 1990s she has been working on questions of marriage, sexuality, and romance among Muslim youth in Indonesia.

Charles Lindholm, Professor in the University Professors Program and in the Department of Anthropology. His work includes books on charisma and on the Islamic Middle East, as well as long-term research on idealization and culture.

Robert P. Weller, Professor of Anthropology and Research Associate at CURA. He has concentrated on China in comparative perspective, ranging from a critical examination of the role of culture in East Asian business to the latest changes in Chinese religion.

Jenny White, Associate Professor of Anthropology. Author of a prize-winning recent book on Muslim politics in Turkey, she combines that work with on-going interests in women and family life in Islam.


Barbara Diefendorf, Professor of History. Her work includes the social, political, and cultural history of early modern Europe, particularly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French history, urban history, history of the family, and women and gender. Her current research is on the culture and politics of the Catholic Reformation in France.

Jon H. Roberts, Professor of History. An American intellectual historian, he has special interests in the history of Anglo-American religious thought and the relationship between science and religion. Among his current projects is a book dealing with the efforts of mainstream American Protestant intellectuals during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries to defend the privileged status of mind–divine and human–in the face of a series of challenges from forces associated with “modernity.”

Jeffrey Rubin, Associate Professor of History and Research Associate at CURA. His research on Latin America focuses on the historical, cultural, and religious origins of grassroots activism and the ways in which social movements contribute to the deepening of democracy by establishing forms of voice and autonomy in “non-political” locations. He currently heads a workshop project, “Religion, Social Movements, and Progressive Reform in the Americas,” bringing together scholars of social movements and scholars of religion in Latin America and the US.


Houchang E. Chehabi, Professor of International Relations and History. His research includes Iran,  Middle Eastern politics and cultural history, Turko-Persia, Islam, and transnational Shi’ism.

Husain Haqqani, Associate Professor of International Relations. His areas of specialization include Muslim Political Movements, International Journalism, South Central Asia, and South-East Asia.

Stephen Kinzer, Visiting Professor of International Relations. Stephen Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has covered more than 50 countries on five continents, and his areas of specialization include International Journalism, U. S. Foreign Policy, Politics of Turkey, Iran, Rwanda, and Central America.

Jeremy Menchik, Assistant Professor in the Dept. of International Relations. Dr. Menchik’s dissertation, “Tolerance Without Liberalism: Islamic Institutions and Political Violence in Twentieth Century Indonesia” recently received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation on religion and politics.

Augustus Norton, Professor of International Relations and Anthropology. His recent research has taken up the question of civil society in the Middle East and renewal in reformist Muslim thought.

Charles Stith, Director, African Presidential Archives and Research Center; Adjunct Professor of International Relations. His areas of specialization include political and economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa.


Linda Barnes, Associate Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Family Medicine, School of Medicine, and Director, Boston Healing Landscape Project. This project uses Boston as a laboratory for documenting the growing religious diversity of the United States and the corresponding emergence of a richly textured world of culturally and religiously grounded complementary and alternative medicine.

Lance Laird, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine, is Assistant Director of the Masters Program in Medical Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Practice and a senior consultant to the Boston Healing Landscape Project. His interests and work focus on Muslim cultural pluralism in the U.S., and related implications of Muslim understandings of illness, healing, medicine, and complementary therapies. He is also conducting research on the roles of congregations in public health.


Kecia Ali, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies. She teaches classes that explore the diversity and complexity of Islamic expression and experience in both classical and modern periods. Her research interests center on Islamic religious texts, especially jurisprudence, and women in both classical and contemporary Muslim discourses. She is the author of Sexual Ethics and Islam: Feminist Reflections on Qur’an, Hadith, and Jurisprudence (2006) In addition to her current book in progress – Marriage, Gender, and Ownership in Early Islamic Jurisprudence – she is also working on a biography of the jurist al-Shafi’i.

Frank J. Korom, Associate Professor of Religion and Anthropology. His research and teaching interests range from South Asian contemporary religion to diaspora studies and transnationalism, all of which comes together in his work on East Indians in the Caribbean and the global community of Tibetan refugees.

Hillel Levine, Professor of Sociology and Religion. His interests include Holocaust studies and American Jewish history and sociology.

Anthony Petro, Assistant Professor of Religion. Petro is a historian of modern Christianity, focusing on religion, gender, and sexuality in the United States. He is currently working on a book called After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion.

Stephen Prothero, Professor of Religion and Chairman of the Department of Religion and Director of the Graduate Division of Religious and Theological Studies. A historian of American religion, Professor Prothero specializes in Asian religious traditions in the United States.

Dana Robert, Truman Collins Professor of World Mission and Co-Director of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission. Having written the definitive history of women in the international mission movement, she continues to work in mission history and the history of world Christianity, especially on the many expressions of Christianity in southern Africa.

Adam Seligman, Professor of Religion and Research Associate at CURA. He has made important contributions to thinking about the role of religion in the modern world and is currently working on the problem of religion and toleration. Part of this work is devoted to establishing school curricula for teaching tolerance from a religious perspective. In this endeavor he is working with colleagues in Berlin, Sarajevo and Jerusalem.


Nancy T. Ammerman, Professor of Sociology of Religion, School of Theology and Department of Sociology and Research Associate at CURA. She has written extensively on fundamentalism and on American religious organizations. Her most recent research concerns the formation of religious identities in an everyday world shaped by both secular and religious narratives.

Emily Barman, Assistant Professor of Sociology. Her research examines the changing nature of the nonprofit sector and includes attention to the sociology of religious bureaucracies.

Ellen Childs, Research Asst. Prof in the Center for Practical Theology and Director, Congregational Studies Website project. Her research interests include organizational and congregational stagnation and decline in mainline congregations; the information aids pastoral and congregational leaders in analyzing and better serving their congregations and communities.

David Swartz, Visiting Assistant Professor of Sociology. A renowned expert on the theories of Pierre Bourdieu, his research also includes work on non-profit organizations and on intellectuals and politics.

Current Doctoral Students

Amani Abu-Shakra | Anthropology |
Her research focuses on identity reconstruction and accommodation issues among Arab Muslim Americans in the Greater Boston area.

Gina Bellofatto | School of Theology
Gina studies international religious demography (the statistical analysis of religious populations worldwide), currently focusing on Judaism and the religiously unaffiliated. She is also doing research on the Christian history of American sociology and the 20th-century development of quantitative methods as applied to religious adherence.

Michel Chambon | Anthropology |
Chambon is a Catholic Theologian with a Master in Theology from Paris (Roman Canonical License in Theology). He is researching the hybridization of Christianity and Chinese culture. He spent 3 years in the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, and 2 years in Taipei.

En-Chieh Chao | Anthropology |
PhD Candidate. She studies religious revitalization movements in late modern times, particularly Islamic resurgence, along with other issues including gender, identity politics, ethnic conflict and nationalism.

Elizabeth Crocker | Anthropology |
Her research focuses on the practice of Vodou among Haitian immigrants in America.

Matthew Duffy | International Relations & Religion |
Matthew is working on his MA where he focuses on East Asian, Chinese religions, and human rights.

Sarah Mount Elewononi | School of Theology |
My dissertation is focused conversion fostered by the worship practices of Methodist camp meetings held through New England in the 19th century (between 1822 and 1871).   I aim to graduate in spring 2014.

Carol Ferrara |

Ada Focer | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
She is interested in the relationship between 20th century religious life and social thought and social action, particularly among mainline Protestants post-World War II.

Sarah Bruff Garlington | Sociology/Social Work |
Sarah’s research focuses on cross national comparisons in religion and social welfare policy structures.

Sara Georgini | History |
Sara studies American religious history, with a special emphasis on Revolutionary Anglicanism, as well as the pluralist impulse in nineteenth-century interfaith dialogue. My current research focuses on how fast-day sermons fashioned a national design of Christian morality in the early American republic.

Trelawney Grenfell-Muir | UNI Religion & International Relations |
Her focus is on the role of religion in conflict. Specifically, she hopes to examine the role of mid-level clergy in Christianity and Islam, and the impact of their interpretations of religious doctrines on exacerbating or ameliorating conflict. She plans to conduct field research in Northern Ireland and Lebanon in the spring and summer of 2007.

Kunisuke Hirano |
MA student.

Kathryn House | STH |
Kathryn House completed her Master of Divinity degree at Boston University School of Theology in 2008 and is currently a doctoral student in Practical Theology.  Her academic interests include the constructions of gender and sexuality in evangelical Christian traditions and ecclesiologies.

Amy Moff Hudec | Sociology |
Her interests include religion, gender, and media. Her dissertation will focus on the agentic dimension of women within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is a co-investigator working with Dr. Nancy Ammerman on the Spiritual Narratives in Everyday Life project.

Jajang Jahroni | Anthropology |
His research interests focus on Islamic education, specifically issues related to pesantren (Islamic boarding schools), madrasah (Islamic schools), state-schooling, and the transmission of knowledge.

Roddy Knowles | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
His interests are in 19th and 20th century religion in America. His recent projects have focused on contemporary Evangelicalism and also on the relationship between Spiritualists and Christians in the 19th century.

Jonathan G. Koefoed | History |
His interests include intellectual history, religious history, 19th century history, and environmental history.

Melinda Krokus | University Professors |
Her general interest in Sufism has recently focused on the Turkish Sufi musical tradition in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora including France, Germany, Bosnia, and the United States.

Katie Light | Sociology |
Katie’s interests are in studying clergy education, particularly the processes of teaching, learning, and then applying philosophies, values, and theologies of different faith traditions.

Jenn Lindsay | Social Science and Religion Network Coordinator | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
Jenn conducts ethnographic and interdisciplinary research on how religion affects personal relationships, particularly interreligious relationships and the experiences of interfaith workers. She is also interested in religious, public and legal discourse about interreligious relationships, and how the blending of traditions in a home affects religious observance and faith. Please direct questions about the SSRN to Jenn.

M. Chloe Mulderig |  Anthropology  |
She conducts fieldwork in Fes, Morocco, an works primarily with “muhajababes” – headstrong, sexy, pious hijab-wearing young women – to understand how they negotiate the boundaries of their religion, the state, and the market to create a modern Islamic identity. Her work also explores the motivations of demonstrators in the Arab Spring.

Mentor Mustafa | Anthropology |
His fieldwork is an assessment of the religious revival in post-communist Albania with interests in Sufism, religious experience, islamic mysticism, charismatic authority, and secrecy.

Paula Pryce | Anthropology |
Paula studies Anthropology of Christian Monasticism with a special interest in perception in relation to ritual, and monasticism in urban North America.

Emily Ronald | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
Emily is interested in intersection of religion and culture in modern America, in particular reading practices and their effect on religious communities, and the appropriation of narratives from non-religious settings or other traditions into people’s religious and spiritual lives.

Martin Rowe | Sociology |
Martin is interested in migration to and within the Global South and how transient migrants in Arab host states establish and perpetuate enduring communities of faith and institutions such as international churches and schools.

Yang Shen | Anthropology |

Timothy Snyder | School of Theology | Tim’s current research is a series of investigations into religious identity and authority in everyday life. As an ethnographer, he studies how American Christian congregations understand their relationship to society. As a theologian, he is interested in how lived-experience critiques contemporary ecclesiology and Christian practice.

Ben Suitt | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) | His current research interests focus upon the narrative created by the United States’ involvement in violent conflict and how it shapes contemporary Christian ethics with regard to participation in war, conscientious objection, and pacifism.

Per Smith | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
He will soon be commencing dissertation fieldwork on an emergent form of secular ritual practice in the United States. He is generally interested in rites of passage, non-institutional modes of “spirituality,” and the relationship between ritual and “meaning” production in post-industrial societies.

Chelsea Shields Strayer | Anthropology |
Her research on the interactions between biology and culture in Asante indigenous religion and ritual healing ceremonies in Ghana, West Africa, and has cumulatively spent over 23 months conducting fieldwork in Ghana.

Chris Taylor | Anthropology |
Chris Taylor studies the organization of faith-based charity and social work in Muslim societies of north India.

Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu | Political Science |
Ahmet Selim  is conducting his fieldwork in four American Muslim communities with a focus on discussions around Muslim transnationalism among American converts to Islam. His research interests include politics of multiculturalism in United States and Europe, international relations theories, and politics of religion in Muslim majority societies.

Douglas Tzan | Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS) |
He is a student in the History of Christianity, with a special interest in mission history and world Christianity.

James C. (Jim) Wallace | Political Science and International Relations (PO) |
Jim is a mid-career student completing his second doctorate. He has an extensive background in religion, theology, government and politics. His dissertation is on the U.S. government’s use of religion as a tool for covert operations in the early Cold War years. His areas of specialty are IR and religion, political Islam, and religion in China. He is also co-author of a book with Oxford University Press on the Evangelical intelligentsia in America.

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